David Krut Projects is pleased to present Marginalia, a solo exhibition by Nina Torr which includes a collection of unique variation etchings and unique pieces with hand-printed and hand-worked elements. Following her MA show Wayfinding at David Krut Projects in 2020, Torr was invited back to the David Krut Workshop in 2021 with the idea of exploring new imagery through etchings and incorporating elements of collage. Torr started with a test plate that incorporated a series of familiar visual notations using various techniques. The title of the exhibition – ‘marginalia’ – refers to notes, drawings and other embellishments found in the margins, particularly in old texts.
During the Middle Ages and into the Renaissance, scribes made notes to clarify or illuminate information for future readers, in the borders of luxurious, hand-copied manuscripts. The rarity of the written word during this period and close association with religion endowed different manuscripts with great importance, engendering lavish illustration in borders surround prayer passages and Books of Hours. Like these sometimes peculiar doodles from this period, Torr’s works of oddity tell tales of strange lore, conquest and collection, of the malleable nature of knowledge over time. Moreover, elements of our increasingly hyper modern age appear as subtle suggestions.
The making of these unique prints, in collaboration with printer Roxy Kaczmarek, brought together several techniques, including silkscreen to achieve the flat coloured areas of paper in both the base and collaged elements, hardground and softground etching printed in a variety of colours, colour-roll printing, hand painting, chine colle, and collage. The practice of collage is an integral process in Torr’s mental toolbox, allowing a fluidity in compositionmaking. It further imparts the related idea of metaphor, which resonates with the artist’s thinking and creative process. Torr notes that any creative endeavour is, in simple terms, finding intersections. Marginalia presents a body of surrealist oddities, which take notes from natural and cultural history, myth and folklore, specimen collections and historical book objects, created in such a way as to impart our current realities of digital screens and windows.
Time to Wait
Time to Wait I (2023)
Hardground, softground and liftground etching with hand painting and digitally printed collage with silkscreen framed in an openable box frame
52.8 x 38 cm
ONLY ONE AVAILABLE
Time to Wait II (2023)
Hardground, softground and liftground etching with hand painting, collage, and silkscreen framed in an openable box frame
52.8 x 38 cm
ONLY ONE AVAILABLE
Beginning as a test plate with depictions of Torr’s archetypal imagery, this series developed into a rumination on ‘working in the border.’ Torr’s practice tends to highlight the frame of the artwork. Working with specialist framers, the artist has in the past incorporated bold colours, unusual shapes and glass, and an extension of the artwork beyond its borders with illustrated paper used to line the inside of frames. In the tradition of illuminated manuscripts, over time borders became larger and more elaborate, encroaching onto an ever-smaller rectangle of text or ‘focal’ image. The imagery in historic marginalia include floral patterning and elaborate initials, but also curious creatures or scenes, called ‘drolleries.’ These often grotesque, comical doodles populating the borders and margins tended to depict mythological hybrid animals.
Doldrum Drolleries (2023) Variation 6
Hardground, softground and liftground etching with hand painting
28.4 x 20.2 cm
Suspended Belief 2 (2023)
Hardground etching with Kitakata chine collé, framed with a floating etching
61,5 x 47 cm
Suspended Belief 3 (2023)
Hardground etching with hand colouring, chine collé and silkscreen printed collage
51,8 x 36,5 cm
Out of Place
Out of Place 2 (2023)
Hardground etching with chine colle and silkscreen framed with floating etching
61,5 x 47 cm
Out of Place 3 (2023)
Hardground etching with hand colouring and collage, framed with floating etching elements
46,3 x 24,2 cm
Out of Place 4 (2023)
Hardground etching with handpainting, chine colle and silkscreen
61,5 x 47 cm
A pocket gospel is a type of illuminated manuscript, the smallest to exist. These tiny tomes contain gospels, orders, portraits and symbols, and a select few present some of the earliest known preserved examples of Western bookbinding. The landscape element of this print floats with a sketched, shallow shadow, evoking the retro window displays of old computer software. Indeed the layered collage reads like overlapping digital tabs on a screen. Increasingly it is understood that we do not share one reality, but inhabit only our own, experiencing a collective world of many realities through our own ‘interfaces.’ As if illustrating our different readings of the ‘same’ world, each Pocket Gospel bears a distinct animal rendered in similar delicate linework.
The Vegetable Lamb of Tartary
The Vegetable Lamb of Tartary is a legendary zoophyte, a plant once believed to grow sheep – with blood, bones and flesh – as its fruit. Bizarre to us today, understanding where tufts of cotton came from in Europe – far from the origin of the plant in India, but nearer to Mesopotamia, where the sheep had become commonplace livestock – led to the theory of an incredible creature. Connected to the plant by an umbilical-like cord or stem, it was thought that the sheep grazed the land around the plant until nothing remained, at which point both sheep and plant died. The cotton plant was unknown in Northern Europe before the Norman conquest of Sicily between 1061 and 1091.
‘Marginalia’ is the term for notes and drawings made in the margins of old texts. A recurring image in works attempting to expand on scientific enquiry were zoophytes – plant/animal hybrids, indicating early attempts at making sense of the natural world at a time when the knowledge of the Enlightenment period was still centuries away. Organisms such as corals, sponges, starfish, and earthworms were thought to straddle the boundary between the plant and animal world. Early natural history is replete with strange creatures and tales of creation.